- Russia angry at the ban on goods crossing to Kaliningrad
- Putin ally warns Lithuania of retaliatory measures
- Russia-backed separatists claim advances in eastern Ukraine
- US attorney general, in Ukraine, pledges action on war crimes
Kyiv (Reuters) – Russia threatened on Tuesday to punish Lithuania with measures that would have a “serious negative effect” on blocking some rail shipments to Moscow’s Baltic Sea region of Kaliningrad, in the latest dispute over sanctions imposed over the war in Ukraine. .
Within Ukraine, the battle for the eastern Donbass region has become a brutal war of attrition, with Russia concentrating its overwhelming firepower on the Ukrainian-controlled enclave in the region that Moscow claims on behalf of its separatist proxies.
On Tuesday, the agents said they were advancing towards the town of Lyschansk, Ukraine’s main stronghold now in the region where most of the fighting is taking place after most of the neighboring city of Severodonetsk fell under Russian control.
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Ukraine, with its troops and weapons dwarfed by Russian forces, begged the West to send more and better artillery. On Tuesday, Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov announced the arrival of powerful German self-propelled howitzers. Read more
Because of Western sanctions, Russia has begun to pump reduced amounts of gas to Europe via Ukraine. German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said the drop in flows amounted to an economic attack on Germany that “cannot be allowed to succeed”. Berlin has unveiled details of a new auction system designed to incentivize the industry to use less gas. Read more
Diplomatic attention has turned toward Russia’s enclave of Kaliningrad, the Baltic sea port and surrounding countryside of nearly a million Russians, connected to the rest of Russia by a railway that runs through EU and NATO member Lithuania.
Lithuania has closed the transport route of steel and other ferrous metals, which it says is required under European Union sanctions that took effect on Saturday.
Russian officials say other essential goods have also been banned. Video footage from the pocket showed some panic buying over the weekend at stores selling building materials.
Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Russian Security Council, visited the enclave on Tuesday to chair a security meeting there. He said Lithuania’s “hostile” actions showed that Russia could not trust the West, which he said had violated written agreements on Kaliningrad.
“Russia will certainly respond to such hostilities,” Patrushev was quoted by the RIA news agency as saying. Without going into details, he said that “appropriate measures” are being worked on and “their consequences will have a serious negative impact on the residents of Lithuania.”
Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonet said it was “paradoxical” to hear Russia complain about alleged violations of international law, given that it had violated “perhaps every single international treaty”.
Moscow summoned European Union envoy Markus Eder to the Russian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday. EU spokesman Peter Stano said Eder had asked the Russians at the meeting to “refrain from escalatory steps and rhetoric.”
The standoff creates a new source of confrontation in the Baltic Sea, a region already primed for a security reform that would demolish Russia’s naval power as Sweden and Finland advance to join NATO and bring almost the entire coast under the control of the alliance.
The EU has sought to shift responsibility away from Vilnius, saying the policy is a collective action by the bloc.
Diplomats said that in a symbolic but morale-boosting decision, Ukraine is set to become an official candidate for European Union membership on Thursday.
US Attorney Merrick Garland became the latest international figure to visit Ukraine, confirming on Tuesday Washington’s commitment to identifying, arresting and prosecuting those implicated in war crimes during the Russian invasion. Read more
In some of the bloodiest battles in Europe since World War II, Russia has made slow progress in the Donbass since April at the cost of the lives of thousands of soldiers on both sides.
Some of the battles extended over the Seversky Donets River which runs through the Donbass, with Russian forces mainly on the east bank and Ukrainian forces mainly in the west.
But Ukrainian forces – and an estimated 500 civilians – remain trapped in a chemical plant in the eastern bank city of Severodonetsk, despite weeks of heavy bombardment.
In recent days, Russia has captured the small western bank city of Toshkivka to the south, giving it a potential foothold to try to cut off the main Ukrainian stronghold of Lysichansk.
Rodion Miroshnik, the ambassador to Russia of the pro-Moscow separatist Luhansk People’s Republic, said troops were “moving from the south towards Lysekhansk” with battles raging in a number of towns.
“The coming hours should bring about major changes in the balance of power in the region,” he said on Telegram.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Tuesday its missiles had hit an airport near the port of Odessa in response to a Ukrainian attack on gas production platforms in the Black Sea. Reuters could not independently verify the report.
Although the fighting has been in Russia’s favor in recent weeks due to its massive superiority in artillery firepower, some Western military analysts say that Russia’s failure to achieve a major breakthrough thus far means that time is now on the Ukrainian side.
Moscow is running out of new forces, while Ukraine is receiving newer and better equipment from the West, retired US Lieutenant General Mark Hurtling, former commander of US Ground Forces in Europe, tweeted.
“It’s a heavyweight boxing match,” Hurtling wrote. “In two months of fighting, there hasn’t been a knockout hit yet. It will come, as the Rotian Union’s forces become more and more depleted.”
In Moscow, President Vladimir Putin told graduates of military academies that Russia “will continue to develop and strengthen our armed forces.” He added that the newly tested Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of carrying 10 or more nuclear warheads will be deployed by the end of 2022.
And in another reminder of the war’s heavy toll, mourners in the western city of Lviv buried 27-year-old Artem Daimid, who his father said had returned from the United States to fight.
“When the all-out invasion began, where was he? On the front lines, of course,” said Ole Tyakhnibok, a relative. “He was an angel and will continue to be an angel to our family.”
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Reporting from the Reuters offices Writing by Peter Graf and Gareth Jones Editing by Nick McPhee and Mark Heinrich
Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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